Poetry and Chocolate

Last day of school is tomorrow.  I’m ready.  Ready.  Ready.

In the last week, I’ve been photocopying work for next year, writing up quizzes, setting up reading units.  I’ve been hiding in my classroom and cleaning up bulletin boards, taking pictures off the wall.

Today, I checked my mailbox and found a thank you card.  A student wrote me a lovely note, thanking me for the lessons on writing and editing.  She wrote me something I’ve never been told before….

She thanked me for being transparent.  For showing the students my emotions while allowing them to see that I saw them as people and not numbers.

I was honored, humbled.  I stowed the card away in my green tupperware box that holds all the memories of the last twenty years and touched my heart.

In the last week since the seniors graduated and my sophomores have left (they exempted their exam), I have received cookies, chocolates, cards, and a poem.  One graduate, Gabby, wrote me this incredible poem in which she used my words to teach me about myself.  I always tell my students “Love you.  Mean it” at the conclusion of every class.

But I didn’t realize I had said more, had said things about my faith in my students and their abilities.  I didn’t realize that I had said that I believed in my students, or at least said it more than once or twice.

I hate crying in school.  I hate showing weakness.  Which is odd because I don’t think that my students are weak when they cry.  I don’t think that my colleagues are weak when they cry.  But I feel weak.  I feel stupid.  I feel….foolish.

But I have been weeping recently.  Today, a colleague talked about her mother and how she is aging.  I wept.

I wept with each card.

I have quietly wept when a parent asked me to say words of advice to her daughter (Gabby, by the way).  The mom told me about how, even though she had never really met me, she felt like she knew me.  Apparently, Gabby had come home talking about my class, even though I once stuck my foot in my mouth and…yeah….

For Gabby, I quoted “Invictus.”  I invited her to be the master of her fate, to be the captain of her soul.  And her mother thumbed her eyes and lowered the camera and said, “I really do feel like I have come to know you.”

I worry that I’m a bit fake.  That my words are superficial.  I worry that people hear trite expressions when I try to say something kind or real.

But I also know that choosing to say something kind is so much more enriching than biting my tongue and smiling silently.

I have held back kind words before and felt sad when I allowed an opportunity to be kind bypass me.

Summer vacation starts tomorrow.  Tonight, I am going to spend time in my bedroom, curled up under the covers, and read Cloud Atlas which I have fallen in love with.  Tomorrow, I am going to photocopy some poetry, do some more reading, and continue blocking out Diary of Anne Frank.  I think I will tuck the edge of my soul around me and will read some poetry and smile.

I think I’ll pull on my hiking boots and go to the mountains….find a trail.  Walk along the edges of the world and do some writing.

I am so thankful.  So thankful.  So thankful….

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